Contrasting Cities in Combination

Contrasting Cities in Combination

We’ve identified our top 3 program combinations designed to surprise, intrigue and enhance global perspectives

Combining two vastly different destinations is one of the ways we make our international study programs so impactful for students. They can see the extreme cultural, political and economic variances, and gain a greater sense of how global strategies are implemented locally. We picked three destination combinations that we particularly love:

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1. Cape Town → Dubai

The tale of two cities over twelve thousand kilometers apart. While both rely on the travel industry and face extreme disparity between rich and poor, the negative similarities thankfully end there:

  •  THE HERITAGE – South Africa has deep colonial ties, with strong Dutch (Afrikaans) and British influence. Meanwhile, Dubai is a colourful, modern city. But despite the impressive scale and overwhelming presence of wealth in Dubai, it is a city of contrast. Only a few subway stops separate the luxurious Burj Khalifa and The Palm with traditional, yet distinct souks and spice markets.
  • THE INDUSTRIES – Dubai is a bustling metropolis that thrives on real estate, and state-sponsored ‘hubs’ encouraging investment in media, film, medicine and higher education, while social entrepreneurship is booming in South Africa. The collapse of Apartheid opened the floodgates for educational and start-up opportunities and the country is prospering as a result.
  • THE SPEED & SCALE – Dubai is a vibrant, modern city brimming with extravagant skyscrapers, lavish attractions, and an endless expanse of desert. Dubai is rushing to become the most impressive, most wealthy, most prosperous city in the world (look at their plans for Expo 2020). This makes South Africa relatively slow in comparison.
  • THE POINT OF VIEW – Cape Town is extremely community-focused after Apartheid and South Africans are keen to move the country forward together. Dubai is also a fantastic cultural mix, and both enjoy the chance to sit back, relax, have a barbeque and admire the beauty of the natural environment.

Discover more about our programs to South AfricaDubai.


2. Ho Chi Minh City → Hong Kong    

While both fall under communist regimes, have welcoming cultures, boast fantastic food and bustle with streets alive 24/7, the differences begin to emerge after just a few days in each city:

  • THE SIZE – You may think Ho Chi Minh City is large until you arrive in Hong Kong where everything is simply monstrous. There is extensive luxury, with skyscrapers, shopping malls, restaurants and millions of dollars in hedge funds.
  • THE SPEED – While 7% GDP growth in Vietnam may seem a rapid pace – Hong Kong is a highly developed city where business never sleeps. Try to go for a happy hour beer and not talk about business – almost impossible!
  • THE VIBE – Commuting in Ho Chi Minh City is an adventure. It’s a hectic life – whether you are in a business meeting, chatting to expats about living in Vietnam or just buying a beer in a local bar. In Hong Kong everything is well organized, clean and ridiculously fast. Everything is done at a rapid pace.
  • THE BUSINESS VISITS – The key industries and developments in Vietnam are manufacturing, green field breweries and R&D centers, whereas finance, shipping, entrepreneurship and luxury real estate can be fully explored in Hong Kong.

Discover more about our programs to Vietnam


3. Morocco → Spain     

Only a two-hour flight separates them, but two countries, two continents, two religions and two vastly different societies emerge. Whilst the Moors’ influence on Spain can still be felt today, and both countries share a focus on agriculture, tourism and automotive industries the juxtaposition of these two societies emphasises their inherent differences:

  • THE RELIGION – In Morocco 99% of the population adhere to Islam, while Catholic Christianity is by far the largest religion in Spain.
  • THE DIVERSITY – Such diverse landscapes will give you an incredible insight into how different business practices are shaped in developed and emerging economies.
  • THE BUSINESS VISITS – A visit to Morocco combines interesting cultural activities with visits to NGOs and local entrepreneurs who openly share previous obstacles to business development and insights into the local culture.
  • THE DIFFERENT COMBINATIONS – In Morocco, we travel to: Marrakesh, one of Morocco’s imperial cities; Casablanca, considered as the gateway to Africa and renowned for its finance and business centers; and Rabat, the capital and considered a ‘hidden gem’. Meanwhile, we run Spanish trips to Madrid, a bustling capital; and Barcelona, a cosmopolitan city situated on the Mediterranean coast within the state of Catalonia.

Discover more about our programs to MoroccoSpain.


 As recommended by our ISPers Sarka Kulhankova, Zuzana Vedralova & Tomas Chalupnik

Do you have any other combination ideas for contrasting destinations?



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